GOSHEN — Goshen is undergoing a utility assessment as a condition of getting funding from the state, but city officials are questioning the $230,000 cost of the study.
The Goshen Board of Works on Tuesday approved a $236,900 contract with Arcadis U.S. Inc. to begin developing an asset management program, something required of State Revolving Fund participants. Local governments that receive a loan or other financial help from the program must have documentation demonstrating that they have the financial, managerial, technical and legal capability to operate a water and wastewater system, in the form of an asset management program.
“So the state wants us to spend $236,000 to show them we can run a utility that we’ve been running for (years),” remarked Jeremy Stutsman, city mayor and a member of the Board of Works.
Other board members weighed the cost against the scope of work outlined in the contract. They approved the contract after reasoning that it meets a state requirement, but Stutsman said he’ll look into it further before the work begins.
The city has used SRF money for a few major projects over the years. Those include the Combined Sewer Overflow facility built in 2011, according to Becky Hutsell, city redevelopment project manager.
In April, Public Works Director Dustin Sailor told City Council that borrowing from the state fund to help cover $17 million in sewer system improvements would mean a lower interest rate for the city, which would keep utility rates down for customers. The loan would have a 20-year payback term.
The city will develop its asset management program in phases, starting by developing a capital improvement plan for its water and wastewater lines, to ensure that proper investment is made to maintain the assets, the Board of Works heard. Arcadis will establish the asset management criteria for water distribution and sewer collection system analysis, as well as forecasting of rehabilitation and replacement of the lines.
The city has nearly 200 miles of water lines and almost 150 miles of sewer lines that have to be prioritized as part of the project, according to the agreement with Arcadis. The consulting firm will look at the material, size, capacity and condition of the lines, and determine what should be done to maintain them and how much it could cost.
It will also determine which pipes are most likely to fail if left unaddressed and what the consequences could be. The project should take about 10 months, according to the agreement.
Hutsell compared the asset study to the pavement condition rating system that local governments often use to assess their roads and prioritize repairs.
“But we don’t have anything like that for our utilities,” she said. “And so the state is basically saying, if you want us to help with your things, you have to prove to us that you know what you’re doing and you understand what you’re up against.”